Prepping for a colonoscopy is an exercise in the surreal. What other medical procedure requires you to starve, guzzle industrial-strength laxatives and drink colorless, tasteless, slightly disgusting liquids in order to purge the system to the point of dessication?
The whole process must have been devised in the deranged mind of someone raised on a strict diet of Twinkies seeking to reek revenge on the whole of humanity, because he could not extract every ounce of cream filling from within the confines of that spongy, cylindrical, tubular, rubbery non-cake.
For the uninitiated, or those who have not yet reached the half-century mark – that golden age of the wazoo watch – the ultimate goal of the prep is “no caca left behind.” This is accomplished by a protocol of three brutal steps resulting in a slightly disgusting rectal smack-down.
1. total food deprivation
3. more laxatives
Regarding starvation, no solids are permitted thirty-six hours prior to procedure. You may drink clear liquids, however. According to the butt Nazis, clear liquids are defined as anything you can see through. I inquired if that included pureed buffalo burger. I was sure I could liquefy it to total transparency. The tech pooh-poohed the suggestion, so to speak, declaring that if it once roamed the great American prairie and deposited cow pies in the wilderness, it could not qualify as a clear liquid. The same goes for French fries, chocolate cake, popcorn and salsa. Dang. They really take the fun out of a cleanse.
But they did say that tea and coffee without cream were just fine. Being Mormon, albeit weak and very prone to sin, this was problematic. Although the hungrier I got, the more appealing the “Born-again Bacchanalian Church” became.
However, mainlining Mountain Dew passed the smell test, and was proclaimed acceptable.
I don’t know why I always seem to begin a fast when the rest of the civilized world is either grilling steaks or baking bread. Slobbering and salivating until there was a perpetual foam pillowed around my lips all day made people tend to regard me as appearing somewhat genetically challenged.
At noon, I was to take four (count ‘em – FOUR!) Dulcolax pills – caplets so tiny they could sit on the head of a pin, and yet so powerful, they could elicit a spill that would make the BP oil disaster look like an insignificant leak.
I downed those bad boys like it was a 7-course banquet, they being the only solid thing I’d swallowed for days. At first I wondered just how much effect such itsy-bitsy medication would have. I only had to wonder 37 ½ seconds.
At 5:00 p.m., the next step in the sequence from Hades was to mix the entire 238 (two freakin’ hundred thirty-eight!) gram bottle of MiraLax with 64 ounces of Gatorade. WOW! What a cocktail! I was to swill the entire tanker while muttering a benediction over the entire Salt Lake sewer system. The potion was the equivalent of 14 doses of laxative – at once…in an entire sitting…within one hour.
Not being used to taking laxatives, I began to understand the power of the purge. Suffice it to say, I came clean.
Memo to self: DO NOT schedule an appointment with the hairdresser directly after imbibing 14 doses of MiraLax!
The directions advised going to bed at my usual time. Hmmmm. Let’s just say that laxatives and Mr. Sandman make strange bedfellows.
So many times I had been sorely tempted to fudge on the cleanse. I almost unlawfully broke my fast with, of all things, a red bubble gum ball. But no matter how deeply I looked, I simply could not see through it. My entire body was liquefied. Even my nose was runny.
But I was glad I resisted the temptation. The colon does not lie. It has to be a total colon cleanse: a semi-colon won’t do;
The morning of the procedure, I arrived at the hospital one hour early, bedraggled, parched and despondent, clawing my way on to the gurney. Colonoscopies give new meaning to the term, “advance to the rear,” – which is exactly what Dr. Daly did. She came into the procedure room looking laudably perky and adorably coiffed. In any other venue, I would have been jealous. She and I are friends (it’s wise to be on good terms with one’s proctologist!) We chatted amiably. She was noticeably more cogent than I was at that point. I was reduced to muttering unintelligibly.
Then she began preparing the equipment as I was administered some kind of “I don’t care” drug. The last thing I remember seeing was a hose the diameter of the Alaskan Pipe Line, but I didn’t care. Dr. Daly made reference to where the sun didn’t shine, and then, mercifully, everything faded to black.
Apparently, all was fine because, by mutual agreement, I won’t be returning for another 5 years. But I awoke with an insatiable craving for Twinkies.
Laxatives are harsh but effective for what they are designed to do. However, a general review of the conditions of colon cancer is enough to scare the crap out of you. Given the alternative, MiraLax wasn’t so bad after all.